Samun Plai: The Herbal Champion
Posted April 11, 2566 (2023), Bangkok, Thailand
Follow the link above to see the original article in Thai language. Below is the original article translation.
The Thai Ministry of Commerce isn’t yet aware that Applai, named after Plai, is in fact engaged in the use of the Plai rhizome for therapy and wellness. We are the first company in the US to feature Plai as a central component in our wellness products for arthritis pain, joint pain, muscle cramps, sprains, contusions, bruising, spinal wellness and neuropathy relief. We use several ingredients in addition to Plai to create synergy not found in the ancient traditional Thai formulations. Most formulations of Plai use the essential oil. This is prepared by steam distillation of the rhizome. The major components for this process are sabinene and tepeneol. Depending on the source, small to significant amounts of a phenyl butadiene compound is present. These three compounds are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. We extract plai rhizome in organic food grade solvent or oils such as coconut oils to capture polyaromatics known as bagalenes. These molecules are being investigated for neurogenesis. This is the process by which new nerves are generated or regenerated. This research is central for diseases of neuropathy and Alzheimer’s.
Commercial Push “Plai” as Herbal Champion to Create Economic Value
The Ministry of Commerce aims to push “Plai” as an Herbal Champion, pointing to the processing into a variety of products. According to Euromonitor International, herbal retail in the global market is worth about US$5.6 million, and Thailand ranks 8th in the world since 2016 with an export value of over 380 billion baht.
Mr. Poonpong Nainapakorn Director, Office of Trade Policy and Strategy, Ministry of Commerce Revealed that the NRA collaborated with industry and community divisions. National Science and Technology Development Agency (ICE) Plai is one of the herbs that has the potential to push to become an Herbal Champion according to the announcement of the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine. It can be processed from medicinal plant raw materials into a variety of products (e.g., extracts, essential oils, etc.) and also used as an ingredient or raw material in other products (e.g., Prasaplai Pharmacopoeia, Plai Balm, Compresses, etc.). Products containing herbal ingredients are popular among health-conscious consumers. This is reflected in the continued growth in retail value of herbal products.
According to Euromonitor International, in 2022, the retail sale of herbal products in the global market, the 8th largest Thai market in the world (after China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy and Taiwan) is valued at USD 1,543.8 million and is expected to be worth USD 1,676.5 million in 2023. It grew by 8.6 percent.
The director said that the study of trade opportunities for potential Thai herbs, including “plai”, had limited data because plai had very little value for international trade. As a result, there is no international tariff code, so there is a lack of statistics on international trade data to be studied and analyzed. However, Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (in cooperation with the Customs Department) It has been tracking the value of plai imports and exports since 2010. 2016 found that during the year 2016-2021 Thailand imported 26,750 kilograms of dried plai from Myanmar. (26.75 tonnes) worth 520,106 baht and Thailand exports plai in dry form. The total volume of chilled and powdered products to countries such as Singapore, the United States, Australia totaled 2,171.1 kilograms. The total export value was 383,102 baht.
Data registered with the Department of Agricultural Extension showed that in 2021, 169 rai of plai were planted nationwide, with the main production areas in Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai, Nan, Sa Kaeo and Sakon Nakhon provinces with a total output of 507 tons (down significantly from 2019 and 2020 with 1,935 and 1,539 tons respectively). Average price 12 baht/kilogram Dried Plai 100 Baht/Kilogram Plai powder 150 baht/kilogram and essential oil 5,000 baht/kilogram.
From the agricultural mapping system for proactive management (Agri-map), provinces with suitable areas for planting plai such as Bueng Kan. Krabi, Narathiwat, Suratthani, Sa Kaeo and Chumphon The major problem in planting plai is that it should not be replanted at the same place next year due to rhizome disease and root rot. Other crop rotations must be switched before planting in the next season, and if high-quality plai is needed to extract oil, it takes about 2 years to grow, which may cause farmers to lack income and have no incentive to grow quality plai. Finding a market Privatization to create added value.
In addition, the Office of Provincial Commerce has cooperated with the Provincial Commerce Office to provide information on the situation of Plai products, which are many provinces that the government has promoted, such as:
- (1) Chiang Mai: There are entrepreneurs of Plai products who have been registered herbal products. From the Ministry of Public Health, 31 cases Innovations such as “Plai Patch” are processed and applied by the Faculty of Pharmacy, Chiang Mai University.
- (2) Nan: Farmers have gathered community enterprises to convert large plots of medicinal plants. This makes it possible to control the quality of conversion management. In addition, community enterprises have received support for solar drying plants from the government.
- (3) Bueng Kan: Plai is grown according to the standards of the Department of Agricultural Promotion, planted for a period of 2 years to harvest with the Provincial Public Health Office as a major buyer. Plai products are in demand as they are used as primary therapeutic drugs.
- (4) Narathiwat: Farmers have contracted with Raman Hospital to deliver 2 tonnes of plai/year, and (5) Ratchaburi: There is a group of community enterprise farmers with large herb plots. In Dan Thap Tako sub-district, it is grown according to GAP standards and processed into products, etc.
For the situation of Plai products abroad, receive information from the Office of Foreign Trade Promotion. Department of International Trade Promotion Plai is found to be known mainly in Asian countries where plai is grown (e.g. Indonesia, Myanmar, Plai is also used in traditional medicine recipes (such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and Dominican Republic). Overall, however, the NRA found that Plai is not widely known and some countries do not have information on the use of products containing Plai ingredients. Consumers lack understanding of the product. In addition, plai belongs to the ginger family. This causes consumers to be confused about its properties and uses for distribution channels in international markets. Plai products from Thailand cannot be found in general stores, may be sold in Thai retail stores and online channels.
The director concluded that plai products or products containing plai If it is well promoted. There are many opportunities to develop and create higher value. All sectors, including the public and private sectors. Research institutes, educational institutions, communities and farmers must integrate and work together from upstream raw material production to meet acceptable quality standards. The link between farmers and buyers so that farmers have a certain source of purchase and receive a reasonable and fair price. Promote processing and create added value through research and development. Adopt technology and innovation This includes supporting the budget for clinical performance studies and extending research results to commercial use, as well as disseminating information and knowledge and publicizing to create more awareness about Plai, such as having a variety of medicinal properties, as well as health and beauty benefits, in order to be able to push Plai to be an herb. The next strong Herbal Champion.